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Hell, West and Crooked: A Dog's Tale

20 Feb 2017 4:47 PM - Story by Michael Stout

(Bell ready to take flight)

Life out west is just darn right different.

A visitor to Euabalong in 1877 described it as "a most forsaken and deserted looking hole" but did note that "business is said to be pretty brisk there" and that the drinkers were "more refined" than those at Condobolin upstream.

Peter, Liz, Joe & Bell (Pete’s dog) crop 11,000 ac’s on “Harolds” which they purchased in 2004 after selling their irrigation property at Deniliquin.  ‘Harolds’ is a brisk 640 km west of Sydney or 50km North East of Euabalong in Central NSW. 

I wonder what that traveller would say if they were to visit the area now, with the dark green foliage either side of the Lachlan river and the expansive window paned cleared country to the north.  And what of the refined drinkers?  That is still up for debate.


My journey into this vast area was to complete a farm depreciation schedule on a property the Dowling’s had recently purchased.  Once an area covered with tea tree, Mallee and other vegetation with low grazing productivity, this area has now been cleared with light red productive soils.

The land cruiser was not required for this journey.  We were taking the air horse.  And seeing Peter’s kelpie fashionably wearing jet-lined slim-set ear muffs gracefully gait into the airport hangar with an aura of high tea made me ponder if the mode of transport was a 1916 Sopwith Pup bi-plane that hosted James Bigglesworth and silver service catering.  

The Dowling family is based in Wagga Wagga and fly to the property frequently in their Cherokee. Peter, his dog with more air miles than a First Officer and myself headed out to ‘Harolds’ early on a clear summer morning.  It was certainly a sight from the air to fly across the dry land areas of the Riverina, across the irrigated crops bordering the Lachlan and the checkered landscape that harboured “Harolds’.

Unlike the Riverina and large parts of NSW which are fully developed, small parts are still being brought into productivity which requires clearing initially with chains and then cleaned up using stick rakes and a buck rake. A dense border of trees and vegetation is retained around the perimeter of a cleared area, hence creating the window pane affect from above.

To someone from the higher rainfall areas, they would see this country as marginal. But to Peter, Liz, Joe and everyone else in the area it is a treasure that they appreciate. Like all the different grazing and cropping areas across Australia, success is dependent on someone adapting their farming practices to the area that they are farming.